An Irregular Column
by Mykel Board
Feeling tonight like my brain is on fire. Don't touch me tonight I'm a high-tension wire.
Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics, and the Catholics hate the Protestants, and the Hindus hate the Muslims, and everybody hates the Jews. – Tom Lehrer
ONE: I’m tireder than Ron Jeremy after take 10. In my rental car. Back from New Jersey. Off the bridge, coming down to the West Side Highway. I pull over to the right. There’s a horn. Blast. BLAST! BLAAAAAAAAST! Some smarmy guy in a Mercedes SUV. He thinks I cut him off. Maybe I did. Sorry.
He pulls past me. The driver’s side window opens. A hairy arm comes out of the open window. At the end of the arm is a hairy hand, middle finger raised.
Something happens. I feel it rising in my body. It’s a kind of pressure, beginning in my belly, a few inches north of the naval. It rises quickly. In waves. One after the other. It rises up over my chest, tingling my nipples. I feel it in my throat, a constriction, as if I were trying to force a cough. Behind it is another wave, moving up from my diaphram. Northward, ever northward the waves progress. Through my nose, making my breathing shallow, noisy. Up to my eyes. The blood shoots through the whites of my eyes like a speedball shoots through a junkie’s veins. Higher and higher moves the ripple. The first wave hits my brain. Like speed shot directly into the cortex or whatever it is that controls—or releases-- emotions.
Reason begins to drain. Then another wave hits the same spot. Reason is completely gone. Awareness of my surroundings, of my body, is gone. There’s only the asshole who gave me the finger. He is THE ENEMY. I’m after him.
I pull the car into the next lane, cutting off the guy who was behind the evil SUV. I pull behind the bastard. There’s no more than three inches between my bumper and his. I see his worried face in his rear view mirror. I grin back. A maniacal grin. His worry turns to fear.
He signals and pulls into the next lane. Me too. I’m on his tail. I imagine the sweat beading on his face. By the time I’m done, he’ll never give anyone the finger again—even if he lives.
He speeds up. 55, 60, 65. I’m right on his tail. He can’t shake me. He touches the brakes, figuring I’ll screech to halt. Yeah right. I’m up his ass. This is rape and the victim deserves it. I again catch his eyes in his rearview mirror. He looks like he’s going to cry. I laugh, loud, head thrown back, eyes bugged out. I hope he can see me. Hear me. I hope he’s shat in his pants. If he calls the cops, I’ll be as innocent as a lamb.
“Chasing him? Sorry, officer, I don’t know what you mean. I was just minding my own business, cruising down the...”
He’s changed lanes again. Fuck. I can’t get over.
I speed up, and pull into the next lane, trying to get ahead of him; then cut him off. He sees what I’m up to and slows down. Way down. The car behind him gets impatient. It pulls behind me. I pull in front of the SUV to let it pass. Then I pull back into the other lane and slow down. Way down. An exit. He’s off. Away. Damn!
But I feel good. My pulse slows. My breathing deepens. It’s like after an orgasm. Wow! I was a monster. The Hulk. All powerful. A little guy able to strike terror into the heart of some SUV jock who will never forget me. It makes my night.
TWO: I’m at work. At school actually. It’s where I go every morning to teach the New York working Japanese how to speak so people won’t make fun of ‘em. Before I give you the details of this adventure, I need to tell you about apartment phlegm.
It happens to you all the time. You’re home. You set something down, a set of keys perhaps or an earring. You turn to do something and turn back. What you’ve set down has gone. Disappeared into some quantum wormhole. It’s happened to everyone. Things just disappear into a giant sucking space hole, never to be seen again. My apartment is at the other end of that hole.
My apartment just spits up stuff. Underwear, jewelry, books. I find things that aren’t mine, have never been mine. I can’t imagine knowing anyone who would own such things, let alone leave them at my place. This stuff, puked from another dimension, I’ve christened apartment phlegm. I can sell a bit of it on eBay. Some is funny or interesting—but worthless. I bring it to work to offer for the enjoyment of my fellow teachers. It’s my gift to the gang. Some entertainment. Something to bring a spark, a laugh, rather than the depressing daily papers.
Today I have a hunting magazine from the 60s. Lots of pictures of proud white guys standing over animal carcasses. Ads for guns, bullets, an anachronism from a time where men were men and bucks were shot. Where did it come from? Who knows?
With it, as almost poetic counterpoint, is one of my sister’s old teen magazines. On the cover, a beauty queen from the 1960s sits on a rattan throne. White dress, full teenage glory of 50 years ago. It should get some laughs and maybe a few sighs for nostalgia or forbidden lust.
Now to introduce the villain of this story. I’ll call him Uragi. Japanese, he works at the front desk of my school. He’s part office manager, part tech expert, part hole in the condom. We have a history. A teacher I was boffing dumped me for him. Since then, he’s gone through students, teachers, and random white girls like I go through bedside tissues. Slightly pudgy, without a hint of body hair, I don’t get the appeal. Girls tell me he’s “the most sympathetic and understanding a guy can be… without being gay.” I still don’t get it, but whatever it is, it works. He gets more pussy than the local animal shelter.
I tend not to get along with studs. Besides taking all the fresh meat, I’m plain jealous of the ability to play the game, win the prize, and then do it again. You know what I mean?
I still wonder what makes him tick? Why should he care about me? I’m just this shlub of a teacher. I’m no threat. Twice his age, with half his hair, what does he have to worry about? But there’s hostility in there. He’s out to get me.
An hour after I put my magazines in the teacher’s lounge, they’re gone. Disappeared. I ask if someone took them. Maybe they want to read them at home. Jerk off to the Maidenform Bra adverts. Great! I’m glad they’ll be of use.
“Where are the magazines?” I ask randomly.
“Ask Uragi,” comes an answer from someplace.
“Let this be a warning to you,” says the Oriental himself. “I told you not to bring in that stuff. So don’t do it again.”
“You threw them out?” I ask. “They were here less than an hour and you threw them out?”
His silence answers.
Bad enough he has thrown out a gift from me to my fellow teachers, but now he’s also forced me to stop to one of the few enjoyments I have at work. One of the few ways to relieve the tedium is to share this weirdness. Now, I’m not allowed to show that. I’m not allowed to do that. I can’t share the fun with my fellow teachers. I’ll read today’s news or I’ll read nothing. He’s a censor: my most pettish of peeves.
And I told you! He said I told you! He’s not my boss. He’s never been my boss. What fuckin’ right does he have to TELL ME anything! I don’t take orders.
The ripples start. One following the other. They rise up over my chest, tingling my nipples on the way up. I feel them in my throat, a constriction, as if I were trying to force a cough. Behind them are more, moving up from my chest. Northward, ever northward the waves progress. Through my nose, bringing my breathing to something shallow, noisy. To my eyes, where I feel the blood shooting through the whites eyes like a speedball shoots through a junkie’s veins.. Higher and higher. The first wave hits my brain. Like a drug. Like some speed shot directly into the cortex or whatever it is that controls—or releases-- emotions. My temples pound. Reason begins to drain. Then another wave hits the same spot. Awareness is gone. Except for the Oriental who threw my gift away. He is THE ENEMY. I’m after him.
I have enough control not to hit him. Barely. My mind races. The bile of pure hate takes over. I’ll get him. Let him bring something in for the teachers. Pow! In the wastebasket. A gift from his hometown in Japan… cookies for everyone. BLAM! Faster than you can say, trash compactor. The revenge scenarios come faster than a thirteen year old boy on a teacher’s aid! Yeah!
Already I’ve embarrassed him in front of his fellow Orientals.
“Mykel?” he asked.
“What?!!” I shouted back in my best face-destroying growl.
Last weekend I missed the company picnic. A no-show for personal reasons. Let the real boss ask why. I’ll tell him.
I’m obsessed. It’s weeks later. I haven’t had either an apology with a promise not to do it again—or better still—TRUE REVENGE! Thoughts of getting even consume ever more of my waking time—and much of my sleeping time. I’m manic. Jerked awake at night with scenarios of getting even. Plans of revenge, future dialogs, clear as play scripts, race through my mind.
“He’ll see,” I think. Then I think it again.
THREE: There must be at least 150 pounds of books in my suitcase. It’s a tough green thing. A twenty pound veteran carrier. It’s been to Mongolia. It can put up with anything. There are wheels on the bottom, so as long as I don’t have to lift it, I can manage most any weight.
I’ve just returned from picking up books at friends of friends. A pair of Polish octogenarians. Old time liberals/radicals. He’s a holocaust survivor who thinks it’s stupid to punish Günter Grass for a 60 year old mistake. It’s hard to imagine so much persecution and not a continuing hate. But Itzak, (his real name!) thinks Grass is a good man. His past is past.
“Hate only means dead people,” says Itzak.
I like Grass as a writer, and don’t care about his past. But for me it’s different, objective. My favorite writer: Celine, was a Vichy sympathizer and anti-Jew to boot. Itzak is a little closer to the problem. He’s had it with hate. I haven’t.
So I’ve got my suitcase full of Itzak’s books, given to me to sell on Amazon. I’m struggling on the street, trying to flag down a cab. The taxi ride will probably cost me $15. Since I’m splitting sales with Itzak and his wife, that’ll mean I’ll have to sell $30 worth of books to pay for the ride. But there’s no way I can get this suitcase down the subway stairs, let alone UP the subway stairs on the other end.
A cab stops. The driver pops open the trunk latch and sits in the front seat, jabbering on his cellphone, expecting me to hoist the back-breaking bag into the trunk. Yeah right.
I slam the trunk shut and pull open the back door. It slams into the curbside car next to the cab. A chubby colored girl in the car sticks her head out.
“What the fuck are you doing?” she yells at me. “You slammed into my door. You opened the cab door right into my door.”
“Sorry,” I say. “I didn’t realize it.”
“You didn’t realize it? You blind? You hit my fuckin’ car.”
“Sorry,” I say again, dragging the bag into the back seat of the cab and curling up behind it.
“Why didn’t you let me help you with the bag?” says the driver.
“It’s a little late now,” I growl at him. “I’m going down to Broadway and Bleecker.”
“Should I take the FDR drive?” he asks.
I was a cab driver too. I know that trick. It’s blocks and dollars out of the way.
“No thanks,” I tell him. “Just take Second Avenue downtown.”
He shrugs and starts speaking in his cellphone again. I can’t recognize the language. Hindi? Hebrew? Arabic?
We’re at 86th Street heading downtown. At 64th Street, the driver suddenly turns right.
“Where are you going?” I ask.
“There will be too much traffic on Second Avenue,” he says. “Do you want me to take Lexington Avenue or Fifth Avenue downtown?”
“I want you to take Second Avenue,” I say. “I said Second Avenue.”
“It’s too late for that now,” says the driver.
We turn left on Fifth Avenue heading south. Then we hit traffic. Stopped. Not moving an inch.
“This is much faster than Second Avenue,” I say, looking at his license.
His name is Muhammad Islam—I shit you not--Muhammad Islam.
The ripples start. One following the other. They rise up over my chest, tingling my nipples on the way up. I feel them in my throat, a constriction, as if I were trying to force a cough. Behind them are more, moving up from my chest. Northward, ever northward the waves progress. Through my nose, bringing my breathing to something shallow, noisy. To my eyes, where I feel the blood shooting through the whites like eyes like a speedball shoots through a junkie’s veins. Higher and higher. The first wave hits my brain. Like a drug. Like some speed shot directly into the cortex or whatever it is that controls—or releases-- emotions. My temples pound. Reason begins to drain. Then another wave hits the same spot. Awareness is gone. Except for the Arab taxi driver. He is THE ENEMY. I’m after him.
Red light. Green light. We move an inch. Red light.
“Stop!” I yell. “Stop now! I’m getting out here!”
The fare on the meter is $10.50. My hand shaking from anger, I pass a twenty and a one through the plastic protection window. “Give me a ten. Now!”
He looks back at me, reading the rage on my face. He fumbles through his money and hands me a ten. I slam the door open. In traffic. The taxi behind us honks wildly. Struggling, I pull the bag out of the cab and ignoring the cars around me, stagger with it onto the sidewalk.
Dragging the suitcase down 5th Avenue, I plot my revenge. I’ll call the city. The office of taxi and limousine commission. That fucker! The law says he’s got to take me where I want to go—and the way I want to go. Mohammad Islam?!!! He’s probably a terrorist. Besides, he knew I was a Jew. It’s written all over my face, beard-to-baldness. He can’t treat me like that. It’s a hate-crime. I’ll show him! I hate him and his hate-crime committing cohorts.
It doesn’t occur to me that I have Muslim friends and a great pal whose name is Bassam. I don’t think about the holocaust survivor who warned me so few minutes before. Instead, I’m consumed by primal hate—and loving it.
FOUR: Twenty-five years ago, a great man (me!) wrote, Hate has gotten a bad name during the last twenty years… Things have changed since then.
People are realizing that hate just feels good. It gets the blood rushing, the nerves pumped. It’s probably not healthy. High blood pressure, strokes, murder. But it is fun. It’s the total abandonment of self. You can become pure id. You’re relieved of all responsibility. You have no worries except the object of your hate. Hate is the name of the game. It was once shunted away, hidden, embarrassing. Now it is in the open. Running free. The world invites you to hate for the fun of it.
I credit religion for bringing hate out of the closet. What could be more obvious than the Reverend Fred Phelps? He’s one of the truest Christians I know. His website: godhatesfags.com is the most Christian site on the net. It explains everything. And not only Christianity.
Look at the world: Can you imagine invading a country, slaughtering hundreds of people, just because someone in the same political party as someone in that country kidnapped a citizen? It doesn’t make sense. But hate doesn’t need to make sense. Those who try to analyze the Israeli invasion of Lebanon will miss the point if they don’t consider HATE.
It is the driving force of history—especially religious history. The Catholic Inquisition, Protestant Witch-burning, Jewish prisoner torture, Muslims flying planes into tall buildings, Genghis Kahn forcing Buddhism on Asia. All this and more is fueled by hate.
In the 60s, hippies tried to build a movement on love. They tried to create a society where people respected each other. They believed that down deep we all wanted and needed love. They were wrong and the “movement” barely lasted ten years.
Religion got it right. Religion knows that the way to a man’s loyalty is through his hatred. Why do most religions stress abstinence? No sex. No booze. No drugs. They allow you only one outlet that feels good. You’ve got one place to let it out, enjoy the adrenalin. Live the life godhatesfillintheblank wants you to live. Religion will find the object. The focus. You don’t have to wait for someone to give you the finger from a moving car. You don’t have to work in an office where some petty staff member throws away your gifts. You don’t need to take a cab with Muhammad Islam. You only have to follow the religion. Joyous hate will soon be yours.
When those pundits and TV talking heads try to analyze the world situation, you’ll know better than them. When the lefties talk about oppression and the righties talk about strategic advantage, you’ll know it’s bullshit. Remember when Clinton told you “it’s the economy stupid,” you can laugh at how wrong he was.
You know it’s the force of hate that drives the world. Every synagogue, mosque, church, temple is a house of hate. And every-once-in-awhile, you’ll find yourself praying at your own house of hate—even if you’re not a believer.
ENDNOTES: [email subscribers (email@example.com) or website viewers (www.mykelboard.com) will get live links and a chance to email comment on the column]
--> For those who didn’t get the reference dept: Günter Grass is a liberal German writer. He won the Nobel Prize and has worked hard in support of somewhat liberal political candidates. It was recently revealed that he was also in the SS. He says economics and politics forced a young impressionable Günter into the Secret Service. Most Jews don’t buy it. Even the Poles want to take back the award they gave to the old man. As if the Poles were so pure in their WWII Jewish relations. The new Pope was a member of Hitler Youth. No one’s talking about taking anything back from him. But he’s not a liberal.
-->Small Victories dept: In Iowa, a federal judge ruled that the state could not fund an InnerChange prison program. The ruling said that the program was "overwhelmingly devotional in nature and intended to indoctrinate inmates into the Evangelical Christian belief system." That's one for us… 6,324,003,234 for them.
-->How about a MYKEL'S LAW dept: New York Metro newspaper says that the sister of Imette St. Guillen is pushing for Imette's Law. A bouncer at a local NYC club was charged with Imette's murder. Her sister wants a law that would "mandate the installation of security cameras at the entrance to all establishments in New York that hold liquor licenses." Can you imagine? And what happens if someone is murdered at home? In her bedroom? In the bathroom? Mandatory security cameras there too? Jeezus! If you want your freedom, you've got to take risks. That's what freedom is. Enough security already!
--->Psychologists at Lund University in Sweden presented 120 participants with pairs of photos of faces. They asked them to choose “the most appealing” of the two. Then the researches secretly exchanged the selected picture for the one not chosen. These they gave back to the subjects. More than 74 percent of the participants didn’t notice the mismatch between their intention and the outcome. Not only that, they gave a reason for why they chose the face they did not, in fact, choose.
The psychologists call it "choice blindness." And though they're not sure what it means, I think it means people who participate in psychology experiments don't give a shit. The researchers, perhaps, will find a deeper meaning.
--> Corporations and your government dept: A couple of weeks ago, AT&T revised its privacy policies. It now says the company owns customer records and can do what it wants with them. This includes turning them over to whoever asks. The old policy said it would turn over the records only in response to "a subpoena, court order or other legal process."
At about the same time, an article in Salon detailed the experiences of two former AT&T employees working at a facility that has a secret, secure room where a government agency monitored Internet traffic.
And what did AT&T get in return? Remember Net Neutrality? The idea that everyone has a right to equal access across the net? AT&T managed to get exactly what it wanted from the House of Representatives. That means NO NET NEUTRALITY. AT&T also managed to stop a bill in the Senate. And finally, it convinced the FCC that cable providers and small ISPs -- especially wireless providers -- should be made to reconfigure their networks such that they can wiretap their customers as easily as AT&T can. Even better, the government has budgeted up to $500 million in subsidies for the telephone companies to make the changes-- but not a dime for other broadband providers.
-->Intellectual property dept: The Motion Picture Association of America hired a hacker to break into the networks of TorrentSpy and other file-sharing companies. The goal was to shut the companies down.
What's entertaining is that while the MPAA was trying to figure out ways to wreck file-sharing companies, at least one studio is negotiating a deal with those companies to distribute video content. While at least part of the movie industry is getting the idea, the recording industry isn't. The lawsuits will continue. But fear not.
In the true spirit of capitalism a Swedish company will insure you in case you get sued. The cost: $19 a year. Pay them and download away. They’ll defend you. (More info at: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20060629/0038249.shtml)
-->Mongolians have been doing it for years dept: New York Metro reports that San Francisco will begin picking up dog shit for use as a power source. The shit will be tossed into a methane dumpster and the rising gas will be used for "a gas stove, heater, turbine, or anything else powered by natural gas." If I could only run my AC on my natural gas. I’d save a bundle!
-->Police blotter dept: Franklin Paul Crow was charged in Florida with the death of his roommate Kenneth Matthews. The man was charge with fatally beating his roommate with a sledgehammer. The reason? There was no toilet paper in the house and the offending person did nothing about it. Police said Crow "confessed during questioning." I wonder how they did the good cop/bad cop routine without breaking out laughing.
“I understand, son. I’ve been there too. Ruined a good pair of jockey shorts, I did. Talk to me son. Get it off your… er… chest. I understand.”